Players: Bonnet (female), Research (female), Torch (male), Acorn (male), Dildo (male), Doolittle (male), Abigail (female), Horny (male), Casanova (female), Areola (female), Orange (female), Eyeball (male), Uranus (female)
Time: The future
Place: Newsex Sexual Re-Education Camp, Esalen, capital of the Liberated California Republic
Apron stage, surrounded on three sides by the audience. Upstage is a 4-person camping tent, with the door of the tent facing forward obliquely. The hour of dusk is evoked by the recorded sound of crickets and a shady-grove backdrop with artificial grass turf placed along the stage surface. The lights dim gradually in the course of the opening scene until the theater is dark, except for a small flashlight suspended inside the tent from its roof. Playing on the tent surface are the silhouettes of four actors inside who can be made out to be engaging in massage; they are visible as well to those in the audience with a direct view into the tent through its door or the tent windows. Reggae music plays softly in the background and continues during the opening scene, with the volume lowered further once the play begins so as not to interfere with the actors’ speech. Marijuana or hashish smoke wafts over audience.
ACORN and TORCH sit among the audience in the front row within sightline of the tent’s interior. They have been chatting. The audience becomes aware that they are actors in the play only after the lights have begun to dim and they get a spotlight.
TORCH To call her a bitch would be an understatement. She really is a fucking sadist. It’s not for nothing she does Advanced Sado-Masochism Training. You know what Dildo told me she put him through yesterday in Level Three? They were doing these “erotic wit” sessions as part of so-called Sexual Humor Training.
ACORN Yeah what is that anyway?
TORCH She tosses off a leader question and you go around in a circle to see who gives the wittiest answer. You get points for winning rounds and when you accumulate enough points you earn your way out. And if you never win–
ACORN You get kicked back to Level One Masturbation Therapy probably.
TORCH Well, not exactly. And you don’t have to do her off either. I guess she humiliated him in front of everyone. Just ripped into him about his “utter lack of erotic imagination” even though he usually does better than the others.
ACORN So how did he fuck up?
TORCH The question was something like, “How do you seduce a woman into taking a bath with you on the first date?”
ACORN What the fuck kind of question is that?
TORCH I know, that’s how absurd the whole thing is. Some asshole says, “You tell her it’ll be a bubble bath with so many suds that you won’t be able to see her.” “Well, then what’s the point!” everyone shouts. So Dildo takes it up saying, “But secretly you make the water too hot for her to get in, so she stands there poking her foot in the water and that way you get to view her in the long shot.” So Bonnet says, “No Dildo, uh uh, sorry. If the water is too hot for her to get in, then how are you also going to be able to get in and watch her, which is the whole goddamn point, isn’t it? No, Dildo, what you do is, you fill the tub with so much water that it will spill over if she sits down in the water, and that’s how you get to sit back and enjoy the captured spectacle of her body, until enough water drains out for her to get all the way in. You get it?” That’s the sort of crap that goes on in those sessions. The extent of your erotic wit. Anyway, that’s not really what she’s laying into him for. She’s pissed off because of his “attitude problem.” He even admits he hates her and if he thinks she’s making everybody do something stupid he sabotages the activity by not cooperating in humor maintenance.
(As TORCH and ACORN are talking, the players getting massaged in the tent, one after the other, lift up their legs to remove or have removed their underwear, and receive genital massages with copious applications of oil.)
ACORN Oh, not that again.
TORCH Yeah, and now if he keeps it up he says he really might get sent back to Masturbation Therapy.
ACORN Why all the way back to MT? Just for not cooperating? Boy, Masturbation Therapy. I don’t want to go back there again.
TORCH I know, and make all those videos again and everyone analyzing them to assess “release response”? Convincing them how totally you’re able to “let go,” as they put it? What a nightmare that was.
ACORN You’re not kidding. And you know what I heard? If you get sent back to MT a second time they make you eat yourself off.
TORCH No way. Nobody can do that.
ACORN You better believe they can. No shit, it’s possible. They train you with some kind of step-by-step process to loosen up the back. Using yoga. Even women can do it.
TORCH They probably use ropes and pulleys. How did you find this out?
ACORN Dildo told me. He’s been around here a lot longer than us, remember, and he knows the ropes.
TORCH The only reason Dildo can suck himself off is he’s got a long enough cock. Have you ever seen it?
ACORN Seen it! I had to suck the cocksucker. At the Male-Bonding Intros. Didn’t you have to do the same thing?
TORCH We didn’t have to do that, thank God. You had to do that? Jesus! All we had to do was this incredibly stupid introduction game where we introduced our cocks to each other and shake the other guy’s cock. I mean, it was a real drag. I’m not into men, man.
ACORN I’m not either. But you just deal with it at the time, and play-act a little, you know, and everyone’s happy, and you speed up your graduation process.
TORCH But why did they make you suck dick but not us? Oh, I know why. Because you had that Bonnet bitch lead the Intros. We had Research. She’s also a bitch, but cooler, doesn’t take as much pleasure in humiliation. Though she’s colder and I don’t trust her.
ACORN Don’t worry, you’ll get your chance. It all goes down in the books what you’ve done and experienced, and you know you don’t get out of here until you’ve done the Circle.
TORCH Hey, when is this stupid skit gonna start?
ACORN Don’t let them hear you say “stupid” or they’ll make you be in it. What’s it about anyway?
TORCH What do you think? Sex. What do you think they’re doing in that tent, playing cards? Hey I wonder if we’re supposed to go into the tent. Maybe the skit’s inside it or something. You know like the Oilgy the other day–where they don’t tell you what to do but you’re expected to catch on and just start?
ACORN Oh, fuck you mean we gotta participate in there? There’s no room. (standing up to mount the stage for a closer look) You want to go see?
TORCH (sarcastically) No problem, just tell them to spread their legs–hold on, I think it’s starting.
(The music stops; the smell of ammonia hits the audience. Enter BONNET disguised as a vice squad officer dressed in futuristic white police uniform trimmed in scarlet and bizarre helmet reminiscent of pointed medieval armored type, approaching the tent stealthily but warily, as though anticipating what’s going on inside. Peering in the tent window, she snaps back with a dull stunned expression, like a drunken man punched in the face; lurches downstage and sits down, breathing heavily for a few moments; pulls out a police radio. Enter RESEARCH also disguised as officer in identical uniform, glances at BONNET, rushes to the tent entrance; great commotion inside the tent. The sound of an approaching helicopter in the distance. BONNET and RESEARCH speak simultaneously.)
BONNET Captain Mustard? Sergeant Bonnet reporting. We caught some people. Captain Mustard, it’s a group of them, in a tent….I know, extremely serious….You’re on your way….No, not necessary, my men have stun guns, they’ll be here forthwith….Captain Mustard? I’m having trouble breathing….Breathe deeply….Right…. Keep the bodies prone. For follow up….Roger.
RESEARCH Out of the tent! Get out! Now!
(ABIGAIL, CASANOVA, AREOLA, and ORANGE emerge from the tent protesting, cursing, resisting, though terrified; they are naked, bodies shiny with massage oil; AREOLA and ORANGE are disguised as hermaphrodites, with fake beard and mustache, breast hair and penises.)
RESEARCH (pointing at them in a quavering voice) Dirty! It’s all over for you now! (enters the tent) Dirty!….Oh God! It’s wet! Oh! Disgusting filth….
(Thunder of helicopter overhead; a searchlight scans the stage from above, fixing on the four naked women and blinding them, and from the same direction a loudspeaker blasts “Hit the Ground!” Enter DILDO, DOOLITTLE, HORNY, and EYEBALL, also disguised as police. With such extreme speed, efficiency and violence as to overwhelm all attempt at struggling and fighting back, they rush at the women and slam them face down on the ground side-by-side, cursing at them; stun guns of the sort used to kill cattle are placed at the back of their heads and they are summarily executed, their bodies twitching in convulsion from the impact of the guns. Immediately, all noise stops. Stage lights are extinguished and auditorium lights go on as if announcing intermission. The four women jump up, brushing dust from their bodies, smiling and laughing at pulling off the skit to their satisfaction. They and the four men disassemble the tent, chatting amongst themselves and exiting when finished. Meanwhile RESEARCH and BONNET take off their police uniforms. Lights again begin to dim, reggae music and the sound of crickets resume, marijuana replaces ammonia, and the scene returns to the dusk that opened the play, again dimming gradually to night-time darkness in the course of the scene. RESEARCH is voluptuous and BONNET is fat. BONNET wears her trademark bonnet. Their bodies display bold tattoos and each dangles four heavy gold cock rings from pierced nipples and labia majora. They wrap silk sheets around themselves toga-style with one breast exposed. BONNET sits down downstage in half-lotus position; RESEARCH kneels behind her, massaging her back and reaching around to caress her breasts. ACORN and TORCH get the spotlight again.)
ACORN What was that all about?
TORCH It was just like the orientation skit they gave us when we first got here. Why are they showing it to us again?
BONNET (gets spotlight, addresses audience) No applause? I thought we pulled it off pretty well this time. I love doing scenes from the Dark Ages. They’re so much fun. Ah, things are so much better since Liberation. And there are so many variations. Like the one Research wanted to do this time, where the rebels are armed and waiting. When we get to the tent the rebels abduct us, haul us into the tent, rip off our clothes. The Special Forces arrive and are also taken hostage. At gunpoint they’re forced to give us massages and we all get into it without betraying the least pleasure! Now that’s acting for you. Another variation has us held hostage and getting genitally massaged within close-up view of the tent door. When the Special Forces arrive they keep lunging toward the door but can’t bring themselves to enter! But we’ll save those delicious possibilities for next time, won’t we Research? Research always goes along with my decisions, doesn’t she? Show them your tattoos, Research. (RESEARCH stands up, letting her toga slip off, and circles once for audience.) Now let me show you mine. (Disrobes, stands up straight with legs spread in the manner of a cowboy about to draw; clinks together her labial cock rings with a pelvic thrust.) My name is Bonnet and I’m the meanest cuntsucker around! (clinks twice) Nobody has an intellect as breathtaking nor a body as extraordinary as mine–
TORCH You’re not kidding.
BONNET –nobody fucks faster than me (clinks three times) and nobody (aside to TORCH and ACORN)–you’ll pay me more respect when you see how I’ll take both your cocks into my cunt at the same time. Never thought these rings had any use, didja? (clinks three times) They ain’t cock rings for nothing–and nobody, I say, struts the stage like me and bangs those rings! (clinks five times)
RESEARCH Bonnet, they’re not reacting. They’re a little too timid, wouldn’t you say? Do you suppose the audience needs a little shock therapy?
BONNET You got it, honey.
RESEARCH Say a little fishing demo?
BONNET Go get the fishing rods.
(Exit RESEARCH. BONNET sits down again, knees up, legs spread. Attached to her right and left cock rings are short lengths of fishing line with loops, which she hooks onto her respective toes; the lengths are long enough to lie loose when knees are comfortably bent, but not so long as to allow legs to straighten all the way. Keeping the lines slack, she rotates her hips with a flourish and aims her vagina forward, like a cannon. The odor of popcorn and stable hay blows in; circus music plays as multicolored disco stage lights spin. Enter RESEARCH with a large live fish hidden under toga, sits behind BONNET, and hiding the fish between legs, braces her. Enter EYEBALL, HORNY, URANUS in auditorium rear, now dressed in fishermen clothes and carrying fishing rods; EYEBALL to right rear, HORNY to left rear, URANUS to middle rear directly opposite the stage. Stage lights converge on BONNET. Music gives way to snare-drum roll. Players whoop in expectation as the spotlight falls on left-rear player, who casts the first fishing rod. The spotlight follows the imaginary fishing line flying over the audience and hooking onto BONNET’s left labial cock ring, to loud approval and applause of the audience (what’s left of it). BONNET creates the illusion of the fishing line hooking on her cock ring by jerking her leg outward as the hook “catches” her, pulling the ring taught. Ditto right-rear player, right cock ring. Spotlights on middle-rear player with fishing rod up in casting position, and on DILDO in a top hat, who addresses the audience from rear exit with microphone. Snare-drum roll.)
DILDO And now ladies and gentlemen, you are about to witness the greatest liberation feat of them all. Hold your breaths as Kingfisher makes his catch and plucks the magical clitorfish from the depths of Mother Ocean herself, the one and only, Grand Dame Bonnet!
(Drum roll. The rod is cast and hooks onto an imaginary fish inside BONNET’s vagina; pelvic up-down jerking motion as the fish “struggles” with fishing line. BONNET reaches down between her legs as though helping to free the fish as RESEARCH slips her real fish from underneath. With a deft underhand motion BONNET lets the fish fly and it sails over audience toward middle-rear player, tracked by the spot light, but instead it falls short and lands amidst the audience. General cheering. BONNET takes bows, blows kisses, engages in a pogo dance to more audience cheers. Exit rear players. Fade music; stage reduced to bare lighting.)
RESEARCH (pointing at TORCH and ACORN) Hey, you two! How come you’re not cheering? Didn’t you think that was funny? Who are you anyway? What are your names?
ACORN We’re very sorry Dame Research but we haven’t attended Sexual Humor Training and consequently haven’t yet developed a sense of humor. But we really want to learn. Don’t we Torch?
TORCH You bet! But I almost thought it was funny, I think. Especially when she forgot to unhook the fishing line from her toes and tried to stand up.
BONNET Yeah, well maybe we’ll just try the same thing with your balls as part of your humor training. So are you Level One or Two?
BONNET You’ve done MT but not Sex-Humor. Have you started Circle Training yet?
ACORN I have. And I had you for the Intros–
BONNET I don’t recognize you, but no wonder, with 500 losers in the class.
ACORN He had Research. But he hasn’t started Circle Training.
TORCH Fuck you Acorn.
ACORN What’s your problem? They’re gonna find out anyway.
BONNET Do I detect a tone of resistance here? You’re not afraid of man-on-man are you by any chance?
RESEARCH Very eager might be a better way of putting it. After all, the boy just blew it, didn’t he? Confessing your fears so easily must mean you’ve got the devil desire inside?
ACORN Oh boy here we go. You know what we gotta do now, don’t you Torch?
TORCH Why, what do we have to do now? Watch them two go at it together? A little Vision Liberation wouldn’t hurt us, I guess–or Vislib, that’s what they call it, isn’t it?
BONNET Hey, wait a minute! Who said anything about Vislib? Or anything about us two giving any demonstration just for the likes of you? Oh, no. What we have in mind might be more advanced. Such as you two giving us a demonstration. And not as part of Circle Training but right now. How about it, Research?
RESEARCH It always is more interesting when there is resistance involved.
ACORN Hey, I got an idea! If Dame Bonnet would take up her offer of letting me and Torch do her together we might go for it. Try out those cock rings for size.
TORCH As long as she gets those hooks out of the way–(aside to ACORN) Hey, wait a minute! You don’t think I’m gonna let you rub your dick against mine, do you?
ACORN Shhhh! Keep it down. Don’t you see I’m getting us out of a situation where we’ll have to do much more than that?
BONNET (aside to audience) I’ve got more tricks up my cunt than they think! (to TORCH and ACORN) Hey, that gives me an idea. Let’s start preliminary S and M Training. (to RESEARCH) Dress them down. (BONNET and RESEARCH drop their togas, advance toward TORCH and ACORN)
TORCH (to RESEARCH) I like your tattoos. Can I take a closer look?
RESEARCH Let’s not start with any delaying tactics now. (reconsiders) Yeah, wise guy! You like art? Let’s check out what you really know about it. (plants her feet directly before TORCH) Take a close look, boy. Explain to me in concrete detail exactly what features of my tattoos you admire and why. You can begin with a stylistic comparison of my tattoos and Bonnet’s.
TORCH Let me see…well, for one thing, the curve and swell of the thigh here serves to accentuate and illuminate–
RESEARCH The tattoos asshole, not my body!
TORCH –that which remains merely suggested and hidden under the folds of Dame Bonnet’s–
BONNET Thank you, thank you. No, seriously, folks. So tell us something about art. I always like a good conversation about art. What are your qualifications? As a Level Two you couldn’t have attended Advanced Body Art Training, though you should have picked up the foundations during your school years and already developed a specialty, unless involvement in anti-art subversive activity was the reason why you were picked up and sent here in the first place.
TORCH As a matter of fact, that was the reason.
RESEARCH So, what was it? Violated any of the injunctions against domestic philistinism? Discovered not owning an art book? Or not displaying your own art on the walls of your home? Or worse, failure to produce any of your own art? Or was it more serious, say, involvement in rebel activity? Discovered to be a member of ASS?
TORCH None of these things, actually. You know how the Government has recently been tightening up its standards. All citizens being required to demonstrate higher and higher levels of aesthetic appreciation in all of the arts, and all that. Now we have to report to weekly art study classes if we can’t produce art or show an “intellectually challenging” appreciation of it. And if you’re found deficient in sexuality, the two are of course linked, and that’s how I got picked up. My daughter finked on me. Can you believe that?
ACORN But he’s learning. I’ve been teaching him about art. (aside to TORCH) What the hell are you doing spilling everything? You don’t want to make things more difficult for us than they already are, do you?
TORCH The truth is always affords the most dramatic route toward destiny.
BONNET (aside to audience) Hey, this guy’s beginning to sound more interesting than his sidekick, don’t you think? And if I can say as much, he’s in good hands, literally.
RESEARCH Teaching him about what art? About my tattoos, right? So what was the art crime?
TORCH I was set up. My own daughter. She got really upset one day when I failed to notice that she had lined the walls of her room with a whole new set of her paintings. It’s true, I really didn’t notice. She always paints in the same way, like it’s the same painting over and over again, although she claims that the differences between each painting represent stylistic developments of epochal significance or something like that. She reported me to the cultural police. Claimed it was too upsetting to share the same home with an “aesthetically disabled” parent–that’s what she called me!–and that she couldn’t stand “white pollution” any longer. That’s the new jargon for white walls without any art.
RESEARCH And the sex crime?
TORCH I couldn’t provide evidence of having had sex with a man.
RESEARCH Impossible. They make you do it in high school.
TORCH Extra-curricular gay sex. Voluntary gay sex.
RESEARCH Oh, that’s right. Things have been getting stricter. And rightfully so, because discipline works.
TORCH I’m sorry, I just can’t do it with a man. And in fact I never did it in high school. I refused and got away with it by sleeping with my female homeroom teacher who covered my ass.
RESEARCH But sleeping with the teacher is required of all students.
TORCH Each has to only once. I had to more than 100 times. Anyway I’ve never had sex with a man–
BONNET We’ll fix that. (eyeing male members of the audience close by)
TORCH –and I have not the least inclination of doing so.
BONNET We’ll fix that too. But this art business worries me. Are you telling me that the walls of your home are blank?
TORCH That’s right.
BONNET I mean, even the most artistically deficient people make an attempt to beautify their homes. Or they get their friends’ advice on buying tasteful art, or whatever. Christ, all you have to do is go to a Government art store and pick up some free art, you know, student art and stuff. Or at least go out and pick up the latest wallpaper fashion, like that Rubens wallpaper or whatever it is that’s out there now. Everybody puts something on their walls.
TORCH I know, but I would always forget.
BONNET Forget! Hey, wait a minute. How can you forget to notice there’s nothing on your walls? How can you forget to be assaulted everyday by anything so ugly, anything so obscene as a bare white wall? Forget! Oh, Jesus, this is a first for me. Now I’m starting to get angry. You mean to tell me you don’t even notice the fact that you don’t have any art? How can anyone be so blind? What’s the matter with you anyway?
RESEARCH Why didn’t your daughter put her art up on your walls?
TORCH She said that I had to perform my “share of the family’s artistic responsibility” and wouldn’t use any of her art except in her own room.
RESEARCH What about your wife?
TORCH I guess she and I are pretty much alike. We just don’t pay much attention to art.
BONNET Oh, my God. How did the cultural education system manage to let two such morons slip through its fingers? Are you alive? Are you a member of the human species? I just can’t understand it. It’s so strange for me! How it’s possible not to like art. I don’t suppose you own an art book either.
TORCH Sorry, I don’t have any art books.
RESEARCH But that’s against the law!
BONNET If you tell me next you don’t like music I will kill you.
TORCH I do like music.
RESEARCH How about your sense of humor. No Humor Training yet, you say? It’s all part of the same mental make-up, you know.
BONNET Yeah. How about the fishing show we just performed? That was pretty funny wasn’t it? You’d better say you thought it was funny–
TORCH Oh, it was hilarious. Now that you mention it.
BONNET I’m not an unhappy person. I don’t get depressed. But there are times when the human condition strikes me with a terrible poignancy and I feel sad. A momentary loneliness, a kind of weariness born of wisdom: the realization that the more one appreciates art and develops a passion for it, the further away one moves from human companionship and into a wilderness of solitary contemplation, where one’s only friends are dead artists. How many people in this audience can analyze a fugue? Or read a Chinese landscape painting? Or recite a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins from memory?
(As the dialogue proceeds ACORN rolls a joint of marijuana, which he lights and passes to BONNET. BONNET and RESEARCH sit down on the edge of the stage in front of ACORN and TORCH. BONNET takes a hit and passes the joint to RESEARCH, who takes a hit and passes it to TORCH, going the round a few more times before they pass it on to a taker in the audience.)
ACORN You know, I have a theory about art appreciation. Why is it that the eyes must see and the ears must hear, yet so many people fail to enjoy or even notice the art in front of their face or the music surrounding them?
BONNET I don’t know, why?
ACORN Because a hard protective shell encases the emotional center of the mind, and this emotional center is also the part of the mind capable of responding to art. But what happens to some luckier people is that trauma and suffering opens up the emotional center–we might say that reality stabs holes in the shell–allowing beauty to flow in. So the fact of the matter is that only through deep suffering can one really learn to appreciate art.
BONNET Oh, it’s well known. When the Newsex Camp first opened up many of the trainees came to us saying in all sincerity, “We want to like art, but we don’t know how.” We told them they needed to gain the necessary insight through a lifetime of suffering, but they wanted to know how they could gain wisdom through suffering quickly and on demand, now that they were in the camp. They had a point there. And that’s why we established the Temple of Beauty.
ACORN What goes on in the Temple of Beauty?
BONNET What do you think? What’s the only way to speed up drastically the protracted experience of great suffering? By torture.
ACORN Torture? What kind of torture?
RESEARCH Genital torture is one of the main components. We call it “road work.” The testicles, the urethra, the clitoris; also the fingernails, the nipples, the anus. All the points and tips and holes of the body. In combination with an array of psychological and deprivation torture techniques.
TORCH Who gets to participate, by the way?
RESEARCH It’s completely voluntary. But guys like you who express a genuine desire to understand art as well as anyone who wants to stay on in the camp as a trainer are prime candidates. It really works too. You see people go in there still young in years and spirit come out six months later looking ten or twenty years older, with permanent bags under their eyes and a kind of melancholic profundity of countenance. And an unfailingly accurate eye for the beautiful and the significant. You don’t have to give them any art. They produce it spontaneously and prolifically, at least those who still have their wits about them.
ACORN I bet they don’t have any appreciation for my favorite, 20th-century opera, do they? That’s the acid test. Such a great art form and so poorly understood and appreciated, even by music lovers and so-called opera buffs. I mean, it’s drama’s peak of development as we know it. No other contemporary dramatic form–except perhaps film, an obviously more popular though ineffectual challenger–is capable any longer, in our age of irony, of overwhelming the audience cathartically and at the same time offering both technical brilliance and astounding complexity as entertainment factors, do you hear?
TORCH That sounds like a pretty big claim to me. How are you going to convince your average music lover and theater buff of that one?
ACORN Who’s talking about average? The burden is on them to convince us. According to conventional thinking, opera is a frozen art form with four great summits falling within a mere 100-year period from the end of the 18th century to the end of the 19th–Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Puccini. You can count the rest of the standard repertoire opera composers on both hands. But in the 20th century we see an almost geometric increase, an explosive proliferation of great operas by one composer after another. Debussy, Strauss, Berg, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Bartok, Hindemith, Janacek, Nielsen, Britten, Tippett, Penderecki, Sallinen, Reimann, Adams, Glass…the list is endless.
TORCH So what accounts for this “explosive proliferation”?
ACORN Opera in the 20th century is at the peak of its expressive possibilities, coupled with the general increase in quality of the arts accompanying a burgeoning educated public. The truth is that opera began to come into its own in the 20th century and has yet to see its greatest era. The reason why nobody seems to know this–and the reason why I’m taking this opportunity now to educate everyone about it–is that the public still hasn’t caught up with the music, anymore than they have with literature. But if you know anything about literature you must accept the superiority of James Joyce over everything written before him, including Charles Dickens, despite Dickens’ mastery of the novel in his time and his far broader popular appeal. However, as I said, it’s not necessary to prove the superiority of 20th-century opera. The burden of proof is on its predecessors, which they would be unable to do, to prove their superiority over subsequent developments in opera that built and refined upon them.
BONNET Oh absolutely. I totally agree with you and happen to be a 20th-century opera fan myself. In fact I agree with you so much I have a mind to marry you and throw everyone else including the audience into the Temple of Beauty until they wake up to the truth of your words.
(She claps hands once to signal backstage music: the orchestral interlude from Schoenberg’s Moses und Aaron begins to play, with the volume gradually increasing to a maximum and the actors’ voices growing louder to match it and remain audible.)
TORCH Hey, how come you two know so much about the same thing? Are you collaborators or something?
BONNET (aside) He’s not far off the mark. (to TORCH) I like to use the game of bridge as an analogy. I don’t suppose you play it, do you? I bet you think only old ladies play it. That’s why you’ve never paid it the least thought, except to wonder momentarily at the randomly noticed daily box devoted to bridge in the newspaper and how it could be that something so arcane merits its own newspaper column.
TORCH You’re right, I have never paid it the least thought.
BONNET You’re a closed-minded chump. What do you know about life? Only what that little window of yours lets you squint at in the name of reality. You’re the one who’s a genuine snob, not us, since you condemn others’ passions without cultivating any of your own. We at least recognize that even the meanest of hobbies has a certain intriguing complexity to it. But you never thought about that, did you?
TORCH I thought all card games were banned after Liberation.
RESEARCH Yeah, and there was an important reason for that. Card games have traditionally been engaged in to keep social intercourse from taking a sexual turn.
BONNET But card games are not in themselves intrinsically bad. Any card game can be turned into its sexual version. Actually card games aren’t banned, but only their nonsexual varieties. Here at Newsex, for instance, we have a sexual bridge club, but being bridge, you probably wouldn’t have noticed it–
ACORN How do you play that?
BONNET No, what’s banned is the playing of cards as a counter-revolutionary activity, which is what all card-playing amounts to isolated from any sexual expression. Remember that the original function of cards before the Age of Alienation was to draw unacquainted or hostile people together in a peaceful form of play. So we have returned cards to their original function.
RESEARCH But in the meantime keep in mind that officially approved sexual card-playing is the only version permitted.
TORCH Hey, how about a little strip poker?
BONNET Well, anyway, bridge must have something going for it, you grudgingly concede. Now imagine if you were to discover one day to your mortification that all of your friends, relatives and coworkers played bridge. And you never realized it! You just never noticed because you had been blind to it. Suddenly you would become very curious and would immediately set out to learn the game, right? Well, modern opera, to an even greater extent than classical “grand” opera, or bridge, deserves just this sort of attention. Also, just as bridge is the most prestigious of card games, modern opera is the most prestigious of contemporary drama. But there is a key difference between modern opera and bridge. After all, I could think of numerous other hobbyhorses or pastimes besides cards that might seem equally worthy of attention–fortune telling, antique collecting, scuba diving, gardening, whatever.
TORCH Oh, I know, modern opera incorporates striptease.
ACORN As a matter of fact it frequently does call for nudity. But modern performances of classical operas also find numerous occasions to make use of nudity.
BONNET The only problem with nudity is that by itself it is gratuitous and quickly palls on the audience.
TORCH I know.
BONNET The trick is to distract the audience–to keep their attention from focusing solely on the performer’s nudity–so that it seems like there are always two things going on at the same time, as though the nudity had its own function, unconscious of the audience, and therefore theatrically necessary.
ACORN That’s not easy in your case.
RESEARCH Hey, that’s not on cue. (indicating TORCH) He’s supposed to say that.
BONNET Now on the other hand, the great achievement of modern opera is that it is the only theater since Balinese theater to succeed in sublimating the sexual impulse into the music. But unlike the syrupy music of classical opera, this music tends to be loud, harsh, dissonant, explosive. At first encounter hardly erotic. But if you let the music penetrate your armor and grab your soft insides, you will discover that its cacophonous surging meshes with the cacophonous surging of your sexual desires and torments. No other theater can do this. Modern opera is the only true sexual theater with the power–the potential, at least–to satisfy the audience sexually without their knowing why.
TORCH Jazz can do this too.
BONNET (the sound of dive bombers, exploding bombs and machineguns increases in volume, merging with the Schoenberg) Yeah, but jazz is too obviously sexual. Jazz is basically drumming. A highly complex and rarefied form of drumming, to be sure, but ultimately limited to that dimension. And there is no jazz theater. Drumming is not theater. There’s no audience. How can there be an audience when the music is single-mindedly trying to get everyone to dance the clothes off their body?
RESEARCH Now, what kind of logic is that. It’s the scene, not the audience, which defines theater. That’s why they speak of the “theater of war,” for instance. There’s no audience there. Everyone participates in getting attacked or killed.
BONNET Sure, there is an audience. The planners of the war are the audience. And in the age of television, the viewers are the audience. What could be a better example of audience than war? It’s the supreme theater of our time. Broadly defined, that is, as opposed to conventional theater performed inside a theater house. Though it would be interesting to see a real battle with live ammo and soldiers getting killed on stage. If you could only get some troops to agree to shift their battleground to a theater for a paying audience and fly them in from whatever country they’re slaughtering each other in.
TORCH Soldier of Fortune dudes would do it.
ACORN Or they could put all news coverage of wars on pay-per-view cable TV. It might make people more interested in war if they had to pay to watch it.
BONNET Hey, yeah. And we could include war theater here in the Temple of Beauty. Make the trainees fight. Of course some would get killed, but that would make the survivors’ experiences traumatic and truly authentic. But enough of this. (fade music, war sounds) How did we ever get caught up in such a long conversation with a couple of inmates? Who the hell are you anyway? Stand up! What are your names again? (gets up to leave) I need to remember you for future reference. You’re lucky, since you’ll get to have me as your personal Advanced S and M Training Instructor.
RESEARCH Or me. Names!
TORCH Yeah, let’s have Research.
BONNET Why? What’s wrong with me?
ACORN Nothing. What he means to say is–
BONNET In fact Research will be good for you. You’ll be in for a little surprise. Right, Research?
RESEARCH (RESEARCH and BONNET begin to leave) Actually I was hoping for a little session right now. Put these two smart alecks in their place. But all in due time. (enter DILDO) Oh, not you again.
BONNET (to ACORN) Oh, now I recognize you cocksucker! You sucked off Dildo.
DILDO And now it’s Torch’s turn to suck me off.
TORCH Fuck you Dildo.
BONNET Hey, you watch it. He’s Dildo.
TORCH From the size of you you must have made pretty good use of him.
BONNET So you think you’re pretty funny. Let’s see if you’re sense of humor holds up with a dildo down your throat.
RESEARCH Did you say you’d started Circle Training yet?
TORCH Aw fuck, Dildo, look what you’ve gotten me into. Now I’ve got to–
ACORN (aside to TORCH) Shut up! Don’t put any ideas into their heads!
DILDO (aside to TORCH and ACORN) Shhh! Just keep humoring them. It will distract them.
BONNET (aside to audience) They’re about to get a lot of ideas into their mouths. (to TORCH) That’s right, you’re gonna suck cock. So whose cock is it going to be?
ACORN No, Mine!
TORCH No, Mine!
BONNET Don’t worry, White Walls, you will.
RESEARCH Answer my question!
DILDO I hate to interrupt, but Dames Bonnet and Research are summoned to A-V Intelligence for video review of apprehended rebel cell.
RESEARCH Tell them to wait. We’re in the midst of a CT session.
ACORN You can’t do that. He’s not scheduled for CT yet. And I’ve already completed CT.
RESEARCH Good. You can teach him. Soften him up with a bit of pre-training.
TORCH If we’re going to go about this step-by-step I’d like to be instructed by Bonnet first.
BONNET Okay, you got it. Get up here, you procrastinating prevaricating twerp! (she reaches down and grabs TORCH by the shirt, pulling him on the stage; RESEARCH tweaks him on the nose)
DILDO Uh, what shall I tell the Intelligence Committee?
BONNET Tell them to take a break and come watch an impromptu CT session. Oh, I know what. Tell them to bring the video monitor over here and we can do both at the same time. It’ll have educational value for our trainee. (exit DILDO)
RESEARCH But you realize what that means, don’t you?
BONNET What what means?
RESEARCH That we’ve given up. By bringing a TV on stage. To bring a TV set on stage in the age-old war between television and theater represents the final victorious battle for television. Of course, we all knew TV would inevitably win this war, but I didn’t expect you of all people would hasten our defeat. Don’t you think it’s rather insulting to the intelligence and culture of our audience?
BONNET Not in the least. As long as TV presents something with educational content, it has a place. And TV was never truly educational until after Liberation, was it? (to TORCH) Okay, White Walls, off with the clothes.
TORCH Wait wait wait wait wait. Please first explain to me exactly what Circle Training is.
ACORN (aside to TORCH) I told you what it was.
TORCH (to ACORN) I know you did. Shut up, will you? (to BONNET and RESEARCH) I would like to know at least the purpose of it.
RESEARCH We’re going to make you gay.
TORCH But I don’t want to be gay.
RESEARCH We’re going to make you want to. And after that we’re going to make you bi.
TORCH Actually the truth is that I am gay. So it won’t work for me.
RESEARCH You’re about as gay as my dick is long. Anyway, even if you were gay you would still have to undergo Circle Training. The only difference would be that we would make you straight before making you bi.
BONNET That’s why we call it Circle Training. You run the complete 360-degree course, becoming your feared opposite at 180 degrees, and then coming back full circle to bisexuality. Actually you come back to your original mode now enlightened with the perspective of its opposite. It is only after experiencing precisely that form of sex the idea of which now makes you gag that liberates you and enables you truly to develop a taste for the kind of sex you now suppose you prefer.
(Enter DILDO, ABIGAIL, CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS, dressed informally in jeans and lumber shirts, as if going fishing or camping, rolling on stage a large-screened TV on a stand with wheels. The TV sits low on the stand, which is no higher than the wheels’ height. The TV is positioned mid-stage with ample stage space both behind and in front of it, but not so far upstage that the action on the screen is no longer visible to everyone in the audience. A projector and large screen may substitute for a TV set if necessary for the sake of visibility.)
RESEARCH Okay, everyone, we’re doing a CT Session One. You (to TORCH), strip and lay face up on the floor behind the TV. Uh, Dildo, blindfold him with his shirt–
TORCH What’s going on? I thought we were gonna watch TV.
BONNET Be careful, you’re encroaching on dangerous territory by expressing partiality towards television, which I’m sure you are aware has been banned as anti-sociosexual activity.
RESEARCH Okay, cut the delaying tactics. Get over here and lie down. You guys take his clothes off.
(TORCH is stripped and blindfolded by ABIGAIL, CASANOVA, ORANGE, and URANUS. ACORN goes over to watch.)
TORCH I won’t be able to get a hard-on in such an incriminating atmosphere.
RESEARCH You mean to say that after going through Masturbation Therapy you can’t get a hard-on at will? Do you want to get sent back there?
TORCH Oh, please no! I’ll do anything not to get sent back there–
BONNET Good. Start by cooperating.
TORCH –except suck cock.
RESEARCH No problem, for today at least. In Session One, you only receive genital massage, blindfolded so that you can’t see who’s manhandling you. Session Two you get sucked. Session Three you perform genital massage, again blindfolded. Not until Session Four do you suck cock. And so on with kissing, rimming, anal, fisting, three-way gay, three-way bi combos, etc., up to Session Twelve, which is advanced heterosex. Each session is repeated until you experience genuine arousal and not until then do you advance to the next session.
TORCH Yeah, well what if we just happen to have preferences? Are we allowed to jump directly to the session of our choice? Such as Session Twelve, which I think I can demonstrate the necessary proficiency in.
RESEARCH What you regard as a “preference” for certain tastes is nothing other than avoidance of fears. Your sexuality isn’t free-flowing but rigidly channeled into the elaborate psychological system of dikes and canals known as unitary sexual preference, body armor in short. The purpose of Circle Training is not to make you sexually satisfied but rather sexually disturbed. (yawns)
BONNET Look, the whole idea is that sexual response has no gender bias. If someone touches you, whether a man or a woman, it’s going to arouse you, right? What we’re going to do now is get one of our therapists (nods at DILDO) to oil you up a little in the belly region. But you won’t be able to see who it is. We shall prove to you that though your mind may be sexually prejudiced, your dick isn’t. Dildo, update me on the apprehended rebel cell.
BONNET (to ACORN) Hey, you! Get back over here. This is for your edification. Read the charges. (ACORN sits back in a front-row audience seat.)
DILDO Apprehended rebel cell activity recorded by hidden camera in infiltrator’s domicile. First charge, high treason against the State by membership and involvement in the counter-revolutionary organization known as ASS, or the Anti-Sex Society. Second, and most serious charge, premeditated philistinism. (collective cry of disgust by all players except ACORN, TORCH and DILDO)
BONNET This is very serious indeed. Research, honey, explain to our audience just how bad this rebel organization is.
RESEARCH Let the video speak for itself.
(DILDO turns on the TV. BONNET grabs DILDO and pulls him over to TORCH, who lies blindfolded and naked behind the TV set, which blocks a clear view of his body from front. The six players crouch closely together around TORCH on either side of the TV, also blocking audience’s view of TORCH from the sides; each proceeds to massage a part of his body. Not DILDO but BONNET spreads oil over his pelvic region, at first avoiding his penis, which remains without an erection. This can be seen by any audience members with a direct sightline on TORCH. Meanwhile, the video begins. It’s in color yet appears black-and white due to the absence of colorful objects and decor, and shows a well-lit company storage room or basement with bare white walls and fluorescent lighting, a cement floor, a cheap card table and chairs. DOOLITTLE, HORNY, EYEBALL, AREOLA sit around the table playing cards and chain-smoking cigarettes, dressed in wrinkled white dress shirts, dull brown or gray–it’s not clear what color–trousers several sizes too large and secured around their wastes by string rather than a belt, white socks, scruffy shoes; hair uncombed, matted, greasy, hanging in eyes. On table are four grimy pickle jars with the labels removed, containing murky loose tea, lids screwed on to retain heat, unscrewed each time to take the occasional loud sip; peanut shells, cigarette ashes, chicken bones litter the table surface and can be seen scattered on floor around table; directly under table there is an inexplicable puddle of tea and a sodden clump of tea leaves. The four rebels look humorless, impatient, irritable. Volume is off, muting their dialogue.)
RESEARCH (to audience, gesturing angrily at the video scene) Look at this. The self-declared scum of the earth. Now what exactly is the Anti-Sex Society? These ASSholes–and I’m only using the designation that they use for each other–call Liberation a “tyrannous regime” and find every means of subverting and overturning us. Claiming that we, their Liberated “oppressors,” coerce people into enjoying sex, appreciating art, and developing a sense of humor, the ASSholes respond by squeezing out of their lives all sex, art, and humor. Specializing in boredom, they remove all traces of quality, interest, culture, and beauty from lived experience. They reduce existence to the bare bones of grubbiness without pleasure and tedium, for its own sake. Consider that even the lowest of the common run of humanity arrange life around comfort and pleasure: masturbate, eat, drink, sleep. Not ASSholes. Anyone who wants to join the Anti-Sex Society must forswear all forms of sexual release, going so far as to train their subconscious to transform wet dreams into terrifying nightmares that force them to wake up and abort orgasm. And because sleep itself is a pleasure, they never allow themselves a full night of sleep. Now it’s not out of any religious or spiritual vocation that they cultivate their asceticism. Spirituality, which is a kind of intensity of the imagination, is a species of beauty and is therefore detested as well. It is moreover a species of pleasure, for what else do the religious hope to secure in the afterlife but the guarantee to masturbate, eat, drink, and sleep forever? Thus all religious practices are forbidden among them. The very life of the mind is taboo. ASSholes seek to exist as simply and stupidly as animals but unlike animals rigorously avoid animal pleasures. Since nature itself is repugnant to them–lest their senses be assaulted by the obscene splay of the trees, the green blood of the grass, the molten blue of the sky, the erotic smell of the air–they shun the outdoors. Also avoided are the pleasures of extended conversation. They neither smile nor laugh and speak only to grumble or to argue, but never to rage or betray passionate feelings–another species of pleasure. Likewise forbidden is sarcasm and irony, in fact humor of any sort however black or cynical. They have no goals, no purpose in life except the bitter pleasure of rebellion–their sole pleasure. This is the one thing they own and what we can’t take away from them: their sick power to waste their life away playing cards, an activity carefully chosen, by the way, due not only to its illegality but to its inherent emptiness–chosen precisely because they take no pleasure in it. Yet while they take no pleasure in existence they do have a goal and apply themselves with great discipline toward its attainment. High blood pressure, hypertension, nervous stress, lack of exercise, bad food and cigarettes thrown in to boot–they would enlist alcohol in this task too if it weren’t for booze’s pleasant side effect of stimulating the imagination–with this soup of unwellness and bad energy stewing in their systems they hope to die young of cancer. Refusing medical treatment, visiting the hospital only to determine the extent of their spreading malignancy, they are promoted in their ranks accordingly. Shortly before death they are declared martyrs and are dumped into the back alley garbage bin to die.
(RESEARCH turns on the volume. The sound of cards being slapped on the table is audible. A few moments elapse before the rebels resume their conversation.)
BONNET Way to go, honey.
RESEARCH How’s old White Walls doing there?
BONNET He’s holding back. But it won’t be too much longer.
ACORN Hey, what are they doing to you, Torch?
BONNET Ten dollars for a seat. (laughter)
TORCH I think it’s called sexual abuse–
[DOOLITTLE (picking his teeth with a playing card) …We’d better pick up a new set of cards, asshole. I’ve got most of them memorized by their creases and worn edges. You’ve got the two of spades and the four of clubs, right?]
[HORNY What difference does it make, asshole?]
[EYEBALL It’s asshole’s turn to go out and steal a pack.]
[AREOLA My ass it is…]
BONNET Thatta boy, Dildo. Looking real good. Hey, you’re pretty big there.
RESEARCH Does he have a hard-on yet?
TORCH Oh, Jesus, what are you doing to me Dildo?
DILDO It looks like I’m making you as hard as a dildo.
[EYEBALL …the reason it’s your turn to go is because your tits are too big. Can’t you hurry up and get breast cancer so they drop off and I don’t have to look at them anymore, asshole?]
BONNET Jesus Christ is that guy an asshole.
[AREOLA …so whose fault is it if you’re always staring them, asshole!]
ACORN They don’t look very big to me.
[DOOLITTLE Now, now, let’s keep our passions down, assholes. I think what asshole means is that your shirt isn’t loose enough to hide the shape of your bra.]
[HORNY Maybe she shouldn’t wear a bra. Then you won’t notice her tits since they’ll droop and won’t stick out as much.]
[EYEBALL No, but then her nipples might show through the shirt, asshole–]
BONNET Boy, these guys are really in for it. When does the trial start?
[AREOLA …Would it make you any happier if I cut them off and shoved them up your asshole?]
RESEARCH It’s set for tomorrow.
[HORNY …Hey, watch that sarcasm! Why don’t you wear a belt around them under your shirt to flatten them down–]
BONNET I want to start the trial now. Bring in the accused as soon as CT Session One is completed.
[AREOLA …listen you asshole shut up or I’ll take off my fucking shirt and expose myself. And I don’t care if I get expelled from ASS either!]
RESEARCH Aw, look at them, poor ASSholes, they’re fighting. No sense of humor.
TORCH Hey, what are you doing with your mouth in my asshole? That’s not part of Session One.
BONNET I couldn’t resist.
TORCH (rips off blindfold) What the fuck, I thought it was Dildo doing me, not you!
BONNET Put that blindfold back on! You’re not gay yet. Anyway, I had you fooled there, didn’t I?
(EYEBALL and AREOLA are cursing each other. AREOLA throws contents of her tea jar at EYEBALL; he responds in kind, drenching AREOLA’s shirt)
RESEARCH Hey, this is wild. She’s taking her clothes off…now she’s throwing them at the assholes…she overturns the table!
ACORN Yeah, they’re bigger than I thought they were.
DILDO And his is bigger than I thought it was.
(Cheers by those around TORCH as DILDO sucks his erect penis, though TORCH pretends to be unruffled.)
RESEARCH What’s going on?
BONNET White Walls is making solid progress. (laughter)
RESEARCH With the help of a dildo. Hey, White Walls do you need a hand? (laughter)
BONNET Dildo needs one. (laughter)
RESEARCH How about an asshole? (laughter) Now they’ve got her down on the floor…they’re forcing her clothes back on…she’s struggling…
ACORN He’s going to lose his erection if you keep it up.
BONNET No way, he’s not the type to let himself down, are you White Walls? (TORCH ejaculates; another cheer) White Walls, can I ask you a personal question?
BONNET Are you gay? (laughter)
(In the video scene struggle, Liberation police ABIGAIL, CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS storm the room, rescue infiltrator AREOLA and subdue the three rebels. White “uniforms” of the Liberation police are painted on their naked bodies; nipples, pubic hair are painted bright red, but penises are painted white; stun guns hang from hips. The rebels are hauled off. RESEARCH turns off the TV and rolls it to the side, revealing TORCH, still naked and reclining on the stage. Those around TORCH, including BONNET, gasp in surprise at the sudden exposure.)
BONNET Put that TV back and let the faggot get dressed in privacy.
RESEARCH Let’s get the trial started. Intelligence, bring in the accused. Turn those lights off and let White Walls get dressed, hey?
(Exit DILDO, ABIGAIL, CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS, taking the TV with them. BONNET and RESEARCH quickly help TORCH on with his clothes. All lights are extinguished. Reggae music plays softly in the darkness for a minute to allow scenery change. Optional intermission.
Interrupting the reggae music and signaling the onset of the trial is J. S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” for organ, played at high volume for a few moments and diminishing as the stage lights slowly brighten; total duration of Bach is less than a minute, halts with onset of dialogue. Upstage hangs a painting. Downstage a collapsible director’s chair serves as a judge’s seat, which faces upstage, back of chair to audience. Before judge at stage left a laterally placed chair; across from it placed laterally at stage right, six chairs. Four chairs are placed upstage facing forward, ACORN and TORCH sit in two of them; it should be clear from their positional depth that they are the court audience. They are munching popcorn from popcorn boxes. Enter BONNET in toga, one breast exposed.)
BONNET (to audience) The responsibilities of being a judge. It’s not an easy job, you know. Punishing crime, when underlying all crime is the beauty of rebellion. (sits in director’s chair with sigh) Bring in the accused!
(Enter the court guards CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS, followed by AREOLA leading ABIGAIL, DILDO.)
Hey, you’re not the accused.
AREOLA Your Honor, I am this couple’s attorney and request a speedy trial before the main trial gets underway in view of the mild nature of the offense. You might recall their–
BONNET What’s the charge?
AREOLA Newsex quota deficiency.
BONNET You are aware that as a married couple you have a monthly newsex quota to fulfill.
DILDO I’m afraid we must admit our guilt in neglecting this duty.
BONNET But it’s the law.
DILDO I am aware of that, your Honor. However, we just don’t understand the need for newsex. To be honest, we cannot muster the necessary enthusiasm. I mean, oldsex with my wife is enough of a challenge as it is. And on the occasions when we do have oldsex, the expended effort satisfies both of us.
BONNET Whoa, hold on a minute here. You say “on the occasions when we do achieve it.” Do you mean to say you are married and have oldsex only occasionally? That’s the crime of prudery. (ABIGAIL’s, DILDO’s heads bowed in silence)
AREOLA Your Honor, in view of the modesty and shyness of Mr. and Mrs. Salem I request that I be allowed to answer for my clients.
BONNET What’s the problem? Just lying together in bed should be enough to stimulate you to have oldsex.
AREOLA Your Honor–
DILDO The only problem is that we sleep in separate beds.
AREOLA (to DILDO) Why did you mention that!
BONNET So what? It’s not at all unusual for married couples to wind up sleeping in separate beds. Scientific studies have shown that the lust for oldsex begins to fall off in most couples a month after the wedding. Hence the monthly newsex quota. When did you start sleeping in separate beds?
AREOLA (poking DILDO) A month after marriage.
BONNET (to ABIGAIL) Speak!
ABIGAIL (barely audible) Since the wedding night.
BONNET Since the wedding night? Now that’s a fault. Oh, boy. (aside to audience) You realize that you’re going to be here for another five hours don’t you? (to DILDO, ABIGAIL) Let me see if I’ve heard this correctly, now. You sleep in separate beds.
AREOLA Your Honor–
BONNET And you have always slept in separate beds.
DILDO Ehem! It’s true, your Honor, we sleep in separate beds.
BONNET After oldsex do you return to your separate beds?
DILDO That’s correct.
BONNET So you have never slept in the same bed the whole night.
DILDO That’s correct.
BONNET Why not?
DILDO Well, it began as a way of our showing each other respect, you know. Especially on the first night–
AREOLA (to ABIGAIL and DILDO) You’re blowing it!
BONNET I would like to hear the lady speak. And what may you have to say for yourself, Mrs. Salem?
ABIGAIL (letting out a quiet sob) I love my husband.
BONNET Have you lost your virginity, Mrs. Salem?
AREOLA Now that’s out of order.
BONNET Shut up!
DILDO Oh, many times, your Honor.
BONNET Many times? What’s that supposed to mean?
DILDO You see, we start over again every time–
AREOLA An excellent way of putting it. They start over every time, you see, in order to elaborate pleasure! What a way of sustaining erotic tension in their love life! Each night recapitulates the first night they yielded to each other. Of course they sleep in separate beds. How else can they carry out the process? How else can they cross the border of resistance? Only by first holding down love can it spring up. Only by stealing into another’s bed can love be discovered. Only by fearing love is it made fierce. Way to go, Dildo, you steal into your wife’s bed, don’t you?
BONNET (aside) I kind of get off on this girl. And her body isn’t bad either.
DILDO (head averted) Yes, ma’am.
BONNET (to AREOLA) Hey, I like your argumentation. What are you doing tonight? (to DILDO) And at what point each night do you steal into her bed?
DILDO Uh, I guess I just sort of sense it, you see.
BONNET (to ABIGAIL) How?
DILDO Well, on the nights when she is not willing–
BONNET That’s blasphemous.
AREOLA (to DILDO) Be careful, goddamn it, don’t make her sound unenthusiastic!
DILDO I can hear from her steady breathing that she’s fallen asleep. But on the nights when she is willing, well, I don’t hear her breathing and I can see she is staring up at the ceiling, and I sense that she’s waiting.
BONNET Waiting for what?
DILDO For me to…
AREOLA (nudges DILDO) Steal into her bed.
DILDO I say to my wife, “Are you having trouble sleeping?” And she says, “Yes.” And I say, “Why, my love?” She says, “I don’t know.” And I say, “Is it a headache?” She says, “Maybe.” I say, “May I help soothe your neck?” She says, “Yes, but only my neck.”
BONNET How the fuck are you ever gonna make any progress with her at that rate? Hey maybe I can teach her.
AREOLA But don’t you see a drawing out of the erotic here?
DILDO It takes a while, your Honor, but I swear we do succeed.
BONNET At what?
BONNET But oldsex isn’t enough. It’s newsex that you need, goddammit!
DILDO Your Honor, my wife is the same person I had newsex with and as far as I’m concerned sex is sex. Newsex, oldsex, hotsex, coldsex–what’s the difference?
BONNET How many times do I have to clear this up. Newsex is not sex. It is new sex, sex with a new person. If it is not newsex, it is oldsex. Got it? You’ve been having oldsex with your wife. And not because she’s old but because after the first fuck the freshness is always gone.
DILDO But I continue to enjoy having oldsex with her…that is, on the rare occasions when we do have it. (AREOLA pinches his butttock) Ow! What is the need for extra sex when one already has sufficient sex–
BONNET The age of sufficiency is behind us. We now live in the age of abundance. Before Liberation, newsex was a criminal activity. After Liberation, newsex was instituted as the right and duty of every citizen. It also ensures sexual health and happiness amidst the captivity of monogamous marriage. Those who are not married do not have to fulfill a newsex quota, since they seek and find newsex naturally. Those who are married, those that is, who live in a state of mere sufficiency and sexual survival, must fulfill the newsex quota of one newsex partner every month. That’s not so difficult is it? And you have the option of dual fulfillment of the quota by sharing the same partner with your wife. And I’ll even offer my services as your first dual newsex partner. Any objections to that?
AREOLA I object.
BONNET Objection overruled. Mr. and Mrs. Salem, you stand charged on two counts: newsex quota delinquency and prudery. Since this is your first newsex quota offense, you will not be punished. You will instead be put on probation. Starting from tonight you will fulfill your first newsex quota with me. In addition, both of you will read my book, The Philosophy of Newsex, and will be tested on your knowledge of its contents with a multiple-choice exam. Failure to fulfill your monthly quota will bring you back here in court on your second newsex quota delinquency charge, whereupon you will be sentenced to Intensive Newsex Training. Do you know what that means?
TORCH (aside to ACORN) Sounds like fun.
ACORN No more oldsex for the rest of your life.
BONNET You wouldn’t, would you. Like White Walls, there, no imagination. It means newsex with a thousand different partners over a period of a year. Think about that. By the way, I still want to know how you manage to get her pajamas off. God forbid she sleeps naked. (a sob from ABIGAIL) Well, enough of this. These guys are hopeless. But basically innocent. As for the charge of prudery, luckily for you it’s only unwitting and unpremeditated prudery. Nevertheless, Mr. and Mrs. Dildo and Abigail Salem, it is prudery you are charged with and I sentence you both to a rap on the knuckles.
AREOLA I protest the sentence as unreasonably harsh, and frightening. In light of the declared basic innocence of my clients. declared basic innocence of my clients.
BONNET (gets down from chair) No way, nobody leaves this courtroom without a little punishment, even the innocent ones. Give me your knuckles! (ABIGAIL and DILDO hold out their fists, and BONNET raps each one once with her exposed breast.) You’re lucky the sentence is so light, considering the punishments I’m capable of inflicting, right Dildo? Let’s get on with the main trial. Hey, I’m just curious, but how do you get her pajamas off anyway?
ACORN Hey, can I be punished too?
TORCH Don’t include me in any of this. But I wouldn’t mind a shot at Abigail’s neck. Dildo, I can show you how to get her pajamas off real graceful–
DILDO With great difficulty.
AREOLA Oh, come on, now. It can’t be that bad. (whispering) You idiot, don’t you know she has a reputation for changing the verdict!
BONNET (aside) I was just about to do that. What is she, a fucking mummy?
DILDO Well, her pajama top isn’t so difficult. It’s always tucked into her pajama bottoms. Usually after a while she lets me slowly pull the shirt out, and I can place my hands up under her shirt. But she won’t let me pull her shirt all the way off or undo her bra strap–
BONNET She wears a bra in bed? Oh, my God, that’s it! Now I’m really going to change the verdict. This is more than mere innocent prudery. It’s a downright affront to newsexual morality and calls for drastic action. Take that bra off now!
AREOLA Your Honor, in view of the extreme sensitivity and modesty of–
BONNET Shut up! Abigail Salem, the facts of the case compel me to change the verdict. You are sentenced to Level One Masturbation Therapy. Guards, escort the prisoner. Off you go. Mr. Salem, I will personally instruct you on sexual excitation techniques after the trial is over. Meanwhile get in the audience. Watching the trial might do you some good. And bring in the accused! (Exit CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS with ABIGAIL, who is weeping silently.) Uh, I know, attorney, sit in front of him and let him work on your back for practice.
AREOLA That’s not my job.
BONNET You know I also have a reputation for sentencing defense attorneys along with their clients, don’t you? (DILDO sits next to ACORN and TORCH; AREOLA annoyingly swings the chair in front of DILDO and sits down.) What are you worried about? The trial will be over before he’s got his hands under your shirt.
(Enter CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS, escorting DOOLITTLE, HORNY, EYEBALL in handcuffs, dressed in the same clothes as in the video, looking downcast, bitter, unrepentant; guards and accused sit in stage-right chairs.)
AREOLA Who’s their lawyer?
BONNET They don’t get a lawyer. They don’t deserve one. They shouldn’t complain anyway since they have a jury. Hey, I almost forgot, where’s the jury? Jury, where are you? Get your ass in here! (BONNET looks around, scans audience. Enter RESEARCH upstage, naked, with a box of popcorn, sits sprawling in stage-left chair.) Jury, show some respect for the court. (DILDO yanks out AREOLA’s bra, holds it up to general cheers; shouts of disgust by the accused.) Who asked your opinion! (to DILDO, as DILDO fondles AREOLA’s breasts under her shirt and she in turn warms up to him) How did you get that bra off without removing her shirt?
RESEARCH I taught him.
BONNET Yeah right, you wear a bra.
RESEARCH Usually I don’t, but I own quite a selection of bras.
BONNET You own bras? That’s rather unfortunate. I thought I knew you pretty well. You own bras? You know that puts you under suspicion of philistinism.
RESEARCH Unless we have doctor’s authorization to use a bra for breast stabilization for the purpose of pain reduction. You know the law.
BONNET Which I suppose applies to you, Tough Dugs.
RESEARCH I know it doesn’t. But I still have a collection. I like them.
BONNET But you’re not allowed to do that. And why are you being so testy anyway?
RESEARCH I’m not being testy.
BONNET Yes, you are.
RESEARCH No, I’m not. You don’t even know why I collect bras.
BONNET We’ll settle this later. Order in the court! Will the accused step forward. (The accused, sniggering, are shoved forward by the guards; DILDO and AREOLA are making out.) Doolittle, Horny, Eyeball, traitors to morality, art and decency, traitors to all that is beautiful and erotic, you are guilty of membership in a banned organization which engages in anti-sex, anti-art, anti-humor, and countless other illegal activities, as well as of the capital crimes of high treason against the State and premeditated philistinism. I sentence you to life in the Temple of Beauty. (RESEARCH gestures to DILDO, who tosses her the bra.) What do you have to say in your defense? (RESEARCH puts the bra on; BONNET shoots her a disapproving glance.) And don’t think you’ll be getting out of there anytime soon by dying of cancer. You’re going to get the best cancer prevention treatment in the world. Speak up!
AREOLA I thought the normal procedure is for presentation of evidence before rather than after the sentencing?
BONNET We’ll deal with the evidence when I’m completely satisfied with the outcome of the trial. Including any lingering attitude problems on the part of the accused concerning the verdict. Speak, I say!
TORCH They’re not talking.
ACORN That’s because they’re bored.
BONNET Which is another banned activity. Look at that. They look like high school students being taught Shakespeare. All right assholes, you are additionally charged with the crime of being bored. (to RESEARCH) You look like you’re bored too. Now that really bothers me. You know I hate bras. Take that bra off.
RESEARCH Why? I think it looks cute.
BONNET Actually it looks extremely distressing. It’s white. If it was some other color, any color, say orange or even off-white, I might be able to deal with it, but it’s as white and plain as a baby’s diaper. No imagination. Do you hear? No imagination! Just the dreary repetition of doing what you’re told to do every fucking day of your life. And you’re one of them. A collaborator.
RESEARCH Strange hearing this from you–you who’s always trumpeting the idea of “aesthetic dissonance” but who can’t handle my wearing a bra for the trial. I was only trying to show a little respect for the court, you know.
BONNET But wearing a bra is a highly symbolic act. It shows you align yourself with the past. The fact that you can even contemplate wearing a bra, whether for shock effect, irony or whatever, is what disturbs me. I could understand it if you were anyone else but you are a Newsex authority and this cannot be tolerated. Don’t you find the bra revolting? It’s our enemy!
RESEARCH Jesus, what’s gotten into you? I’ve never seen you like this before.
BONNET I never saw you wear a bra before.
(The accused break away from the guards and attempt to separate AREOLA and DILDO, who has begun removing AREOLA’s clothes; enter ABIGAIL, disheveled, sobbing, carrying her panties.)
DOOLITTLE Put that shirt back on woman!
HORNY Put that shirt back on traitor!
EYEBALL Put that shirt back on asshole!
BONNET Get back in your seats!–what’s going on?
ABIGAIL I can’t do it. I can’t do it.
BONNET Do what?
ABIGAIL Touch myself. They want me to touch myself. They want me to rape myself. (RESEARCH grabs ABIGAIL’s panties, puts them on)
BONNET Well, did you do it?–look at how ugly those panties are. Oh, they’re white. And full-sized. Jury, I order you to take them off.
RESEARCH You don’t have the right to order me around.
BONNET The hell I don’t. I’m in charge here and I will not permit disobedience. Take those panties off! Get back in your seats, all of you! (to ABIGAIL) You, touch yourself! And get back to therapy. Oh, all right, get back to therapy and then touch yourself. Research, you are disqualified as a jury member. You will escort the lady here back to therapy and show her personally how to touch herself. (to AREOLA) You, that’s right, you, get over here in the jury’s chair. You’re the new jury.
(RESEARCH leads ABIGAIL to the court audience; lacking extra chairs, RESEARCH sits in TORCH’s lap and pushes ABIGAIL onto ACORN’s lap.)
AREOLA With pleasure. I renounce the verdict.
BONNET Back to therapy, not here!–you what?
AREOLA I renounce the verdict.
BONNET You’re disqualified too. (to DILDO) You’re the jury.
DILDO With pleasure.
(DILDO remains seated; DILDO, TORCH, ACORN simultaneously caress RESEARCH and ABIGAIL; ABIGAIL jumps off ACORN.)
BONNET (jumping down from her chair) In the jury’s chair, I say! (she tries to wrestle DILDO out of his chair; ABIGAIL, distraught, looks for a place to sit down and sits in BONNET’s chair.)
(Auditorium lights on; stage lights off. Indian raga music. All the players adopt a relaxed demeanor. CASANOVA, ORANGE, URANUS, assist DOOLITTLE, HORNY, EYEBALL in removing their shirts and begin massaging them on the chest from behind. ACORN and TORCH likewise go to work on BONNET and RESEARCH respectively.)
ABIGAIL Dildo, do Areola. (AREOLA brings the jury a chair and sits in front of DILDO; spot light on TORCH.) You realize that this trial is part of your Newsexual reeducation, don’t you?
TORCH How could I assume otherwise?
ABIGAIL Good, because positive thinking will be highly advantageous for the next phase of your re-education. You aware of what it is, I presume?
ACORN (patting TORCH on the back) The Temple of Beauty, my friend.
TORCH The Temple of Beauty?
ABIGAIL The Temple of Beauty.
TORCH When do I start?
ABIGAIL Preparation is already underway. Psychological conditioning through histrionic disorientation.
TORCH When do I go to the Temple?
URANUS The Temple is right here.
CASANOVA Didn’t you figure that out?
EYEBALL That’s because he’s not ready yet.
ORANGE But he’ll catch on soon.
HORNY With a little love.
DOOLITTLE And care from his torturers.
TORCH Who’s going to torture me?
ABIGAIL Dildo for starters.
DILDO No, I think Acorn should.
ABIGAIL Well, then, let it be Acorn.
ACORN I appreciate it, Abigail.
ABIGAIL Research, prepare the table. Bonnet, get the tackle box. Dildo, come here, honey.
(Lights out. Sound of crickets.)
* * *
Reset, a play
The Hickey, a play
New Gary, IN (The Kitchens of Canton, a novel, ch. 1)
Lust & Philosophy (a novel)